Where are they now? Chile !

22 03 2013

It’s been a while since this blog has considered those forgotten nations that really deserve more of our attention. I’m pretty tired about hearing about how the US spends money like a drunken, innumerate sailor with poorly stitched pockets or how heinous the tabloid press is with our privacy. I have a sneaking suspicion that most people’s lives are pretty darn boring. Otherwise, why would we need such rampant escapism in our spare time? All they would see at our place is some guy writing meaningless drivel into a computer.. oh, that’s me…

Now we really ought to hear about Chile more often but we just don’t! Our regular readers will expect, very soon, the obligatory quiz, oh, here it is (how’s THAT for timing, huh?!):

Which of the following is REALLY the Chilean Flag?




One of the most interesting things about Chile is that it is the longest, thinnest, country in the world. Yep. If Chile was a supermodel it would be draped in the finest Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Versace instead of stripey Alpaca ponchos. It is remarkably svelte! Now this actually causes some safety issues as well, you could imagine the problem if you lived up on the Andes somewhere in Chile with a long driveway and a dubiously maintained handbrake. It would come as a shock to see your car down the driveway and sitting awkwardly in the Pacific Ocean below. Your Alpaca would not be impressed to be the second most important mode of transport either…

Of course, Chile is known for lots of things. Football? Not so much, really. Food? Meh. It’s really hard to go past a decent Mexican taco or quesadilla. Chileans do manage a peculiar dish or, more correctly, way of cooking called a Milcao du Curanto which involves digging a big hole, sticking a fire in it and chucking in heaps of mashed and ground potatoes, sausages, seafood, old boots and the odd weird uncle that you tend to get at family gatherings. I have some extremely unreliable evidence that long before the Spanish Conquistadors introduced funny hats and severed limbs to the Incas, a boatload of Maoris on holiday had a nice hangi on the beach.

So the legend goes, some particularly hungry Incas crept out of the hills after the Maoris left, drunk, singing and telling Hawaiian jokes to each other. They found only a warm mound of sand, under which the Maoris had sensibly thrown their rubbish, after the Hangi. In it, of course, were the usual sausages, too burnt for even a hungry Australian to eat, Prawn heads (George Colombaris was not present to explain how to extract Crustacean Oil) and the ubiquitous amounts of potato salad (that apparently every culture on Earth appears to make too much of at barbeques!). Well, suffice to say, the Chileans loved it. Previous to that their best dish was a cake purportedly make out of dirt, taro and Alpaca droppings. To the virgin palate, this is, remarkably, what Milcao du Curanto tastes like.

Chile has beautiful beaches, cool, spectacular mountains, truckloads of culture, ruins, classy hotels and places where you can buy souvenir wooden alpacas (or real ones, given a big enough bag and indiscriminate customs officers in your country of origin). So why don’t we hear more about it? Ah, readers, this is the part of the show where we do the fabulous country makeover.

It would be remiss of us to go any further without discussing the merits (or otherwise) of the nation’s motto which translates as “By reason or by force”, which sounds curiously like parenting advice to one with petulant toddlers. It’s just too gubernatorial. You really need to show that you have a laid back vibe when your whole country is really one bloody long beach. Don’t go getting heavy man. What are you forcing us to do? I’m not touching that Milcao crap with a barge pole buddy!!!

How about a far vibier (it’s not a word but seriously should be, man) motto? Hey, since writing articles for Belgium, Portugal and that other country, their column inches in some publications has gone up measurably, according to a vague statistic I manufactured especially for this article. A truly great motto would be: “Life’s a beach, and then you fry!”. Which not only sounds about as laid back as you can get but also explains the inordinately high rates of skin cancer and eighteen year old girls that look like unwrapped Egyptian Mummies.

Here at File 13, we generally recommend a flag makeover and Chile is no exception. The correct flag in the quiz was this:

Yawn. Sorry, this flag always has this effect on me. It honestly looks like the scraps on the cutting room floor when they designed the US flag. One star, half a white stripe and then a red one. Really? errrgh. It’s an embarrassment, man. My proposition is to kill two important birds with one important stone (actually just an ordinary stone would do, it’s only a metaphor for those into animal rights wanting to kill me with, in that case, a particularly hypocritical stone). Let’s do a flag that looks funky AND shows people how to pronounce your country!! Here are some options, mainly because I am honest enough to admit I don’t know the correct way to pronounce it:

Flag 1:

What a great flag, right?!! Chilli:Chile.. how cool (or hot) is that? Even the bloody country looks like a chilli (albeit, long, dried out Chilli but let’s not split Alpaca hairs, right?). Now, if I am not correct with the pronounciation, then this might be a more suitable flag:

How COOL is THAT, for a flag (can you believe our country makeover service is FREE here at File 13!!!!). It screams, “CHILL, EH?”.. with an Eric Estrada-like chilled out dude on a retro chair. I wish it was our Australian flag, man. I’m saying man a lot in this article. It sounds a little sexist. It might well be. If I could find a chilled out woman, I might say woman, but I haven’t met one yet. Of course, from a female point of view, ‘chilled’ from a male point of view could really just be ‘lazy’ from a female point of view.. as in “get off your chilled out arse and put those 16 day old underpants in the wash, YOURSELF!”. I reckon this guy has been SO chilled for SO long that his underwear may be attached to the chair… this could be a problem.

There we have it. New flag, new motto, thrill rides down to the sea in cars with faulty handbrakes and Alpaca rides.. what’s not to love? Well, we might have to recommend fasting whilst visiting, otherwise we really need to develop a new national food. Chilli-icy poles anyone?


Countries we never hear about #3: Venezuela

21 12 2010

Ok, it’s been a while and I’d like to say that Ban Ki Moon has been on my back about another article in the “where are they now?” countries articles but he has not because a) I have a bad back and b) He doesn’t know me.

While we are on the topic though, why do World Leaders continue to insist on having hilarious names. Must I, every time I see a news story on SBS (at least twice a year), be subjected to the head of the United Nations whose name only makes me think of Westpac bending over?? Let’s not get started on Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. His name makes Ronald Raygun seem positively cartoon-like.

Answers later, so you don’t cheat!

As usual, I digress. For today we have the honour of recognising a nation whom I am quite sure you have heard of but 13% will believe that this nation is in Africa, with all the other ‘funny sounding ones’ but you’d be wrong. Yes, we are speaking of the glorious nation of Venezuela!

You’ve heard of Angel Falls, the Andes, the Amazon Jungle and Pabellon Criollo right? Ok, three are places you can visit in Venezuela and one is not actually the Presidente but a shredded beef dish. If you thought the dish was Angel Falls you should visit your Geography teacher and give them a serious punch in the nose.

Venezuela wallows in its unenviable relative anonymity for much the same reason as other countries discussed on this blog. It is simply TOO representative of South American countries. Invasions by people who ate paella back sometime before football was invented, morbid fascinations with military dictatorships and Zorro. Hot jungles, Cold mountains, women with G-strings on beaches and.. whoa. Back up! Brazil? Anyone? OK, so some South American countries have made their way into the International Sovereign State Celebrity list, it must be possible.

So what has Venezuela got going for it? I’m glad you asked! A cool flag for starters:

Yep. Primary colours, some pretty stars and a little cresty-thing with, oh, no. A horse, some wheat and, yes, another flag (which makes a flag, with a crest which features a flag). When will these South Americans learn not to set graphic art deadlines to Flag designers right before siesta???
“Hey Pablo, are you feeneeshed with the flag design now?”
“Huh, no Paulo, I am not. I hem however (with single finger raised in the air) neeearly feeneeshed!!”
“Ho K, I am so tired Pablo, I will see you later Hombre!”
“Man, I too am buggered. One more theeng in thees square.. one more theeng!! Oh, stuff it! Another flag!! Now where eez Mr Teddy??”
Some simple changes I’d suggest? Firstly, not a horse, a UNICORN!! Yeah, who doesn’t like a Unicorn eh?? With any luck, Venezuela could even get a decent polo team, glue horns onto the white horses and get a sponsorship deal through Mattel with Barbie on board, Yeahhhh!
Next. Not wheat. That is so, agrarian, so Stalinist. Croissants man!! Everyone loves Croissants. Now, I can hear roars of derision already that Croissants are French, blah, blah, blah. However, I have one word for you, ok two: French Fries!! You’d also get the approval of quite a few muslims (mostly short-sighted ones) who would really like the crescent, particularly if it was a green, mouldy croissant! I know. People should hire me as a PR consultant with this genius but, sadly they don’t.
Now, the final change I’d recommend to the flag would be to swap the flag in the crest for a big screen TV. Then, build the biggest big screen TV and show the flag on the screen, with the flag on its screen and the flag on its screen and so forth down to the smallest flag on the screen of the the TV on the flag. The best bit, though? tourists who visit the screen could be shown a subliminal message in the smallest screen on the flag on the screen that encourages them to pay over $1 USD for a Coke, whilst visiting. Stick a vending machine next to it with Coke for $1.10 US and watch the GDP rise, baby!
In conclusion, the country could also consider actually getting a President called Pabillon Criolli. Sure it is a national dish of shredded beef and rice but the rest of the world already thinks it could be the president and the Venezuelans would think it was a hoot! There we have the crucial point of marketable difference: the first South American state to NOT take its politics too seriously. Of course, it may take some time to degrade it to the state of the chookhouse of Australian parliament, the circus that remains the Italian parliament or the sheer Anarchy of the Taiwanese equivalent but it is all baby steps on the way to International Celebrity!

Portugal, next in our “Where are they now?” series

11 06 2009

Yes, Portugal, where’s that again? According to a subsequent poll, 26% of Australians believe Portugal to be somewhere “around Asia”, whilst 74% are convinced it is a rival patio company to Stratco. When most people are asked about Portugal, the first thing that usually comes to mind is “I wonder if you really would explode if you were suddenly in space?”.

This is simply not fair to this fine country. For goodness sake, Portugal has been continuously settled since prehistoric times. That is longer than Austral.. well, no, I guess indigenous Australians were there, well longer than Canad.. oh, damn, Innuit, well, Antarctica!! Can you believe that.. WoW! Even before the world invented scientists??!!

Originally named after the Roman title for the region on the Iberian peninsula, “Portus Cale” or, “Port of the Celts”, Portugal was an important trading nation and well acquainted with sailing to distant lands to explore new continents and trade exotic goods.

GenYs may be somewhat surprised to learn that in ancient times (like the 20th Century) information like that contained in the previous paragraph was prized. In an age before Wikipedia existed, people actually had to acquire knowledge slowly and show it off at any opportunity at cocktail parties. These days, knowledge is kind of like the free pens they give you at work conferences.

What else is important about Portugal? Portugal has a president. It has a democratic republic. Yep, you guessed it! BOR-RING. This is kind of like banks advertising savings accounts that have plastic cards that can be used at teller machines…who bloody cares?

For the record, here is the current Portuguese president, Mr Anibal Silva:


Now, like our previous entry about countries we simply don’t hear enough about, we see a trend: Unfortunate names for state leaders. Mr Silva would undoubtedly have a difficult time internationally but not because his name is silly. Au contraire (I would have used “Ao Inverso” but who the heck understands Portuguese??), Anibal is a distinguished and beautiful name in Portugal.

No, the problem is that in the Western world, the movie, “Silence of the Lambs”,in 1991,  starring Anthony Hopkins in his brilliant but chilling portrayal of the cannibalistic serial killer, Hannibal Lecter simply scares the spaghetti out of most of us. The world’s male leaders can handle being introduced to some guy called “Anibal”. Heck, they mostly live in parliaments with ugly men damn nearly KILLING each other (or, in the case of Taiwan when the furniture REALLY gets moving, just delete the “nearly” in the previous phrase!!).

You see, the issue is with the wives of those world leaders. When you are invited to another country as a leader, the pair of you have to stay in that person’s house!! Of course, it perhaps wouldn’t be so bad if the Portuguese didn’t love their fava beans so much and poor old Mr Silva apparently is addicted to the suckers.

So Mrs head-of-country-x leans over and sees Anibal tucking into a plate of fava beans noisily and suddenly, Mr head-of-country-x would have more chance of getting his wife to stay in a Palestinian bomb factory on the West Bank with a target on the roof and a sign out the front saying: “Well he HAS got a big nose!!”.

Which brings us to the part of the show where we miraculously give this country a makeover. Portugal is relatively easy to fix. The problem? Portuguese  are far too laid back. You simply can’t get much international celebrity when you are number 7 in the world in terms of peaceful nations. No news broadcaster can sell airtime with headlines like: “In further news, it was a quiet day in Portugal and absolutely no one was pissed off by the Portuguese.”.

Anibal, get your angular face out of your Fava beans and go annoy someone. I suggest watching “Fight Club” several times for inspiration and a couple more for some good tips on soap making.

Anibal, get-a-nuke!! It doesn’t have to be a real nuke, even a big black WW2 mine with a nuke sticker on it will do (although avoid those “ACME” mines, a little too “Wile-E-Coyote” these days!). Then call some superpowers (well OK, only the US really) “Imperialist dogs” or even better “infidels” or even even better “Canadians” . Then tell them that Budweiser beer is like carbonated cat wee (now, most Americans seem to know this but it still annoys them). Now you have yourself the chance for some first class free publicity.

The next step is to shamelessly plug your beautiful Englishman free beaches (eat your heart out, Spain!!), cheap steaks and beautiful beers and you have yourself a worldwide tourist campaign. If possible, all hollow threats against the world would ideally be carried out ON a beach by Anibal with a beer in one hand and steak on a fork in the other seated on a deck chair. He could even consider hiring a few Belgian girls to stand around in bikinis with their mouths shut. An article I read recently suggested that Belgian girls are apparently quite hot.

Finally, to the chicken. Is Portuguese chicken truly sexy? Well, actually, yes. That delicious charred outside, the layers of barbequed chilli sauce and Lemon is worth getting into a whole lot of International trouble for. At least it is better than Fava beans.

Countries we really don’t hear enough about #1: Belgium

23 05 2009

I am often intrigued by the amount of information that hits the press from some countries, whilst others languish in obscurity in our sound bites. The first in this series that we’ll address is Belgium.

Let’s face it, this country ought to sack its PR department if, indeed, it even has one! Now my knowledge of Belgium is, comparatively vast, given my early penchant for Asterix books. “Asterix in Belgium” the third Asterix book I read, after “Asterix the Gaul” and “Asterix in Egypt”.


Now there are those feisty types that would dispute that my knowledge is still up to date. Are you trying to tell me that Flemish clans no longer wear wings on their helmets, parade in patchwork pants, eat boar and enjoy having a good biffo??

Whilst Belgium is sandwiched rather like leaky corn-relish between the two substantial slabs of bread commonly known as France and Germany and boasts the headquarters of the European Union, most people are hard pressed to even think of a single food that is famous from Belgium. Yep, I caught you thinking waffles and potentially chocolate as well. Waffles and chocolate. Well you could certainly do worse, for goodness sake, the country-formerly-known-as-the-superpower-USSR, gave us Borscht and vodka!

There may be several good reasons why we have shunned this fine country, however, and I have penned a list:

1. They have funny (and somewhat gross) names for things. One of the largest cultural groups are called “Flemish”. To an English-speaker, you might as well call them “Sputumese” or “oystermen”! This is unfortunate as it is disgusting.

Now this is a photo of the current Prime Minister, whom I would confidently bet my house that you have never heard of, Herman Van Rompey. I am telling the complete truth here. The Prime Minister is named after the place and manner in which he was conceived. This is simply cruel. It would be almost impossible for any world leader to address such a leader on camera without bursting into fits of laughter which could result in an international incident.

2. Belgium is, well, a little dull. The landscape is pretty flat, the people are just pretty nice, they keep their yards tidy but it’s just a bit… bleah. This is evidenced by their most famous of Vitamin B12 rich vegetable exports, Brussels Sprouts. Sure it’s good for you but it tastes like someone smuggled fresh grass clippings onto your plate. It may have been a much better idea to cultivate this rare Brassican in Belgium but call it “Paris Sprouts”. It would have solved an economic as well as a tourist issue in one easy move.

3. Finally, we shun this country ignorantly because it is a cultural chameleon, all things to all men (and women and possibly children and dogs too). Most of you guessed the flag wrong (right?). The correct Belgian flag is at the bottom of this post. Its people speak German, Dutch and French. they like chocolate, have lots of green fields and cathedrals and quaint pubs…Yawn. Just another Eurotrash country. Didn’t start any world wars, doesn’t blow up islands in the Pacific just for fun (I mean, the only thing that ought to be blown up with a “bikini” in the name is a photo of Jane Fonda in one, right??). they don’t have cities famous for organised crimes, prostitutes and cheap Ganja, they are just decent Europeans but a bit… vanilla.

So, to counteract this, Belgium ought to seriously consider what marketing types tend to call a “point of difference”. They could start with their national anthem: “Strength through Unity”. In the immortal words of Rik Mayall: “OH! BOR! RING!”. Instead, I’d recommend the title:”The chicks here are HOT!”.

Flagwise? Go with your strength like the Canadians did. OK, now they have GREAT Maples, presumably for making Maple Syrup. So they ditched the Union Jack for the Maple Leaf. Smart. People LIKE Maple Syrup, people generally LIKE Canadians (until they find out what annoying gits they can be!).

So I’m recommending Belgium go with a purple flag (we really don’t see enough of these) with a yellow circle and a Belgian waffle in the middle, maybe with blueberries on it. Around the circle, in Dutch, German and French, the words:
“Our Chicks are Better. Our Waffles are crunchier!”.

Now, one further thing would help immensely. Investment in Football. The country should undertake a strategic plan to put the nation into calculated debt to buy the world’s best football players and have them sponsored by Belgium’s biggest waffle company. Then they can start getting their bums into gear and start winning the European cup. This way, their expensive kits will be copied the most in China and Belgium can gain the political support of the world’s largest nation without lifting a finger to invest in tricky things like international diplomacy. This also ensures that Belgium will get into the news around the world on a weekly basis, at least.

Now, I realise I should be paid for advice like this. In lieu, please send waffles to PO BOX 1430 Brisbane GPO.

Next time in our “where are they now?” country specials…PORTUGAL!!!! Just how orgasmic IS that chicken…?